San Antonio Spurs, City, Bexar County Partner to Purchase Scorpions Stadium with eyes on MLS Move

IMAGE, TOM REEL/SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS

by JAKE NUTTING

Just as the North American Soccer League is on the verge of adding two teams in 2016 and announcing more to follow, a surprise press conference in San Antonio today has raised the possibility that the league could be losing one if its marquee teams next year.

San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff were on hand to announce that the city and county partnered with the San Antonio Spurs to purchase the home stadium of the San Antonio Scorpions, Toyota Field, from team owner Gordon Hartman for $21 million dollars.

The deal, which will soon be put in front of city council and county commissioners for approval, is meant to create a clear path for the city to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to San Antonio.

Under the proposed agreement, the 8,200 seat stadium would also undergo an expansion to USSF standards required for Division I teams.

When pressed for a timeline on expansion, Wolff expressed that they hope to be in MLS’ next wave of expansion after the league reaches 24 teams over the next three years. Wolff said that MLS President Mark Abbott disclosed that the league will put together a list of potential candidates for the next round of expansion sometime next year.

As part of the proposed deal, the Spurs would be required to pay the city and county $5 million should the MLS bid fall through.

Hartman will still retain ownership of the Scorpions for the time being, but the team could nevertheless be on the move to another league soon. The San Antonio Spurs own the license fee for a United Soccer League team in the city and with the strong relationship between MLS and USL, a switch to the third division does not seem absurd. Wolff added fuel to that fire by stating that the team will “probably” move to USL in preparation of the MLS bid. He then quickly caught himself and elaborated that the decision of what league to play in will of course be made by Hartman and the team.

Notably, no representative from the San Antonio Scorpions was on hand to address the media. The team released a brief statement from Hartman a few hours after the press conference that did not address the potential USL move or team sale.

“Soccer for a Cause began four and a half years ago to bring focus and assistance to the special-needs community while also delivering high-quality professional soccer.  We look forward to reviewing the final details of the agreement that was made public today to ensure that it continues to advance those dreams.

“We thank all entities involved in this transaction for their interest in our cause and for taking an aggressive stance to advance pro sports opportunities in our community.  Morgan’s Wonderland, The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland, the San Antonio Scorpions, Toyota Field, and the STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex were all created for the benefit of our special-needs community.”
  • BleedingRed

    Good news. Hopefully Indy will follow. Cosmos, I’m rooting for you guys to come to the party, but your window is closing. You’re going to have to put some pressure on your management or watch NYCFC take your market away from you.

  • stop playing with my mind !!!!

    I thought mls did not accept teams who play in a 8000 seat stadium

    • Ulrich

      4th paragraph:

      Under the proposed agreement, the 8,200 seat stadium would also undergo an expansion to USSF standards required for Division I teams.

  • Cosmo

    Which market is better Austin or San Antonio.
    How many teams will MLS go for 30 or 32.
    Will MLS ever do an MLS 2 and a real farm division.

    • HydraHamster

      With MLS against promotion and relegation and mostly anything that’s like other soccer leagues, an MLS 2 seems unlikely.
      Also, MLS is using the USL as a farm league since they failed at creating a good one.

  • HydraHamster

    I see this as good news for the NASL. With a MLS driven team out, that opens the door for more owners who rather have an independent club instead of a franchise business squad.

    • RespondToAIdiot

      Are you aware the NASL is a franchise business as well? Idiot.

      • HydraHamster

        Franchise business? Do you even know what that is? MLS owns the clubs and player’s contracts. Basically like a McDonald’s. The NASL have independent clubs within it and those clubs own the player’s contracts. The word you are looking for is, single entity.

        • slowleftarm

          This is hilarious – what difference does it make? Railing against single entity is just Cosmos fans grasping at straws in an attempt to justify why they are “happy” not to be in MLS. When in reality they wanted to be but their owners were too frugal to pay for it.

          • HydraHamster

            HAHAHA! I’m a Sporting Kansas City fan. You can’t call someone a Cosmos fan because they don’t like what MLS do. I hate MLS because I see the crappy things they do by being a long term follower.

            • slowleftarm

              Sorry, that’s a bit difficult to believe.

    • slowleftarm

      He’s just an NASL “bot” as his comrade likes to call everyone. Every team in NASL, except maybe the Cosmos, would jump at the chance to join MLS.

      • HydraHamster

        Sport’s league bot: A person who have no opinion of it’s own, share the same enemies with that support league no matter who’s in the wrong and only cheer for that one sport league growth instead of the sport in general in the country.

        None of that matches me. I hated MLS while being a fan of theirs and I form my own opinion.

    • ty

      Well I lived in S.A. for 4 years. Toyota field is outside the 410 loop. People complained about the Spurs playing on the east side rather than the Alamadome. This has disaster written all over it. They should be called Converse Scorpions.

  • Kevin

    Not a surprise. Toyota Field was built to expand into a bigger stadium if need be. They can build two more tiers on it the way it’s structured now.NASL has just keeping building and worrying about the product and the business of running a league and we’ll b ok.Exciting times for the league

    • slowleftarm

      Yeah, exciting times as all its best markets leave for a better league.

  • ty

    Is anybody here from San Antonio actually? I’m thinking not. do you realize this field is outside of the 410 LOOP? Good Luck. Might as well call them the Converse Scorpions. People didn’t like that the SBC center was on the east side.

    • Chan

      I am. As Leo noted, people are used to driving in SA anyway. The Scorpions used to play at a high school stadium near the airport and Morgan’s Wonderland, so Toyota is not that far from there. As for the Spurs, some fans may have been upset for moving out of the Hemisfair area downtown for the east side, but moving to the Rodeo site was not that big a deal, as people were used to that too. The downtown Alamodome is too big for the team, and would have to be turf to be inside a domed stadium (and the less said about the grass at the USNT game, the better). Alamo Stadium (a high school stadium near downtown) has always been suggested for a soccer team, but does not get much traction for some reason.

  • I went to the semi final match last year. Nice facility. Yeah out of the way, but San Antonio is one of those typical cities in the southwest with not a lot of downtown residents. People are used to driving a distance everywhere.

    Having said that, though it usually worries me when a team leaves the league, in this case it really does not. They have long been a cancer on the league, and their front office — literally — sounds unhinged much of the time.

    There’s a battle going on. Lots of investors are more interested in NASL than in MLS. There’s much more freedom, and the simple little fact that you get to, you know, actually own your team.

    And now we’re seeing the USSF finally bending a bit, with the news the MLS reserve teams are banned from the open cup, as it should have been all along. With law enforcement poking around and the anti-trust suit hanging over their heads, the USSF –maybe, just maybe — is starting to be what it’s supposed to be, the steward of soccer in American, not the business partner of MLS.

    • slowleftarm

      If you look in the dictionary under “wishful thinking” you see this post.

      • You’re an anonymous loser who doesn’t know the first thing that’s going on. I, on the other hand, have direct knowledge of what’s going on, and when I do, I report it. When I don’t, I say so and can be held accountable because everyone can see who I am and find me. I am providing fact based information. Your a bored underemployed loser who has nothing else to do but troll Dave’s web site. And everyone can see that, in case you didn’t realize that.

        • slowleftarm

          Everyone on here is anonymous except you because you are trolling for business, linking to your firm’s website in your avatar. I don’t see any evidence of “direct knowledge” in any of your posts. Occasionally you post an interpretation of a statute or regulation but any lawyer with half a brain could do that – it’s hardly “direct knowledge” of anything.

  • “You’re” a bored underemployed loser, I mean.

    • slowleftarm

      Bored? Perhaps.